Sometimes they just want to buy the cigar. When one-size-fits-all marketing doesn’t fit

One-size-fits-all marketing advice often doesn’t fit YOU-Shaped Businesses. Here’s one example where common advice can make you sound like everyone else. Video below or scroll for the written version.


  • The “Big 3” benefits – do they apply to your business?
  • When marketing advice makes you sound shady
  • When naming your service is enough – and when you need to link to specific benefits

Sigmund Freud was famous for linking damned near everything to sex.

I made a ton of money selling cigars. Without claiming they help people with money, relationships or health!

But as someone once pointed out: “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”

Common business advice says that if you want to sell something, you need to link it to one of the “Big 3” – money, health or relationships.

Sometimes this is exactly the right thing to do.

If you offer a service that people haven’t heard of before – and it directly relates to money, health or relationships – then this is perfect!

Tell them how the thing you offer helps them make more money, have better relationships or improves their health.

But sometimes this one-size-fits-all advice doesn’t fit.

Instead, it results in marketing messaging that sounds a bit same-old same-old just like everything else:

  • Make more money by getting hypnotherapy
  • Make more money with a new website
  • Make more money by getting counselling
  • Make more money by getting a dog-walker

Don’t take advice that makes you sound shady!

And sometimes you just want a salty snack! Cartoon from

I was once at a very painful networking event where we were instructed to introduce ourselves without naming what we actually did.

Instead, we were to focus on the benefits that our clients received from working with us.

For some businesses, this was exactly what was needed. This advice worked great!

Saying “I’m an expert in the XKG Methodology” didn’t mean anything to anyone. Whereas saying “I help businesses free up more time” had a much better chance of connecting.

For others, it just made them look a bit shady.

Imagine a networking event where pretty much everyone in the room was offering to help people make more money without specifying how.

Suddenly, legitimate businesses like website developers, bookkeepers and personal assistants all sounded like they were competing directly with each other – and offering some kind of questionable MLM “business opportunity.”

Which is the opposite of what you want to do when you talk about your business.

The goal of marketing is to connect what you do to what people want

And sometimes, they simply want the cigar.

Some businesses are easier to market than others.

If you do something that people have heard of before, that they understand, that they want – you can be really direct with how you describe your offers.

  • I build websites for people.
  • I provide bookkeeping services.
  • I’m a dog-walker.

You don’t need to give them a reason or benefit right away.

The goal of marketing is to connect what you do to what people want. If you offer an easy-to-understand service, don't complicate things for yourself!Click To Tweet

What if it’s not so easy?

Let me explain the details of the XKG Methodology

What if you offer something that people don’t understand or have never heard of before? Or you’re a generalist with multiple services?

Or you offer something original, unique or innovative.

In this case, you DO have to connect it to a problem it solves, a result they’ll get or a benefit.

Coaching falls under this category.

While people know what a coach is, very few people recognize the value a coach can provide or see a clear need for hiring a coach.

And because different coaches provide different benefits to their clients, coaches will do well to connect what they do to the results they help their clients get.

This also applies if you offer a service that people have heard of, but maybe don’t see a need for.

In these cases, it can be helpful to point out how a personal chef service or hypnotherapy or the XKG Methodology can help people.

Sometimes the benefit is one of the Big Three.

  • Businesses coaches can help people make more money
  • Relationship coaches can help people with their relationships
  • Fitness coaches can help people with their health

But the Big Three tends to make businesses sound pretty general and nondescript. (Most business services can ultimately be tied to “making more money.”)

You’ll stand out more if you choose a more specific benefit

Will training my dog make me more money, improve my relationships or benefit my health? I don’t really care. I just want him to sit when I say sit, ya know…

The Big Three isn’t the ONLY three! People may want to:

Or any of a zillion other more specific benefits or results.

People are unique. They want different things – and they need different approaches.

This is one of the challenges in running a YOU-Shaped Business: common advice often doesn’t fit – it simply makes you common.

You need to do what makes sense for your business, your clients and your offers.

Keeping in mind that sometimes, people just want to buy the cigar!

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